Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Garment unions seek pay rise

Garment unions seek pay rise

Garment unions seek pay rise

Labour union coalition says $50 per month is insufficient

A COALITION of four pro-government labour unions has called on the government and garment factories to boost garment workers' minimum wage by more than 80 percent.

The Committee for Fair Wages said Wednesday that the minimum monthly wage of US$50 was insufficient and should be increased to $93 to encourage workers to stay in the sector.

Committee spokesman Chuon Momthol told a press conference in Phnom Penh that the cost of living meant workers could not afford to work for less than $93 a month.

"We are trying to persuade buyers to raise their orders so that factory owners can increase the salaries they pay their workers," he said. "I believe workers will stop working in the factories if their salaries cannot support them, and that will lead to the death of Cambodia's garment-manufacturing sector."

Chuon Momthol said garment workers currently earn just $1.93 per day, less than the minimum $3 a day that the National Institute of Statistics calculated is necessary to ensure an adequate standard of living.

"And so, we are asking that employers pay $93 as a basic salary, and we will convey our request to them by August this year," Chuon Momthol said. "These days, workers aren't getting any overtime, which means they can't survive without a reasonable salary."

But an official from the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC), an industry body, said that the global economic downturn meant its members would likely be unable to comply, as factories also face serious problems.

"The government has taken action to help the garment sector and cut expenses incurred by employers by suspending the [0.8 percent] benefit tax [paid to the National Security Fund]," Cheath Khemara said. "If the unions want us to increase workers' salaries then they are pushing the situation in the wrong direction. Any discussion about adding costs should be shelved at this time."

A recent report from the Ministry of Labour Affairs and Vocational Training revealed that 46 factories closed in the first quarter of 2009 with the loss of 21,400 jobs.

Oum Mean, secretary of state at the ministry, said the unions' request could not be considered as the country was badly affected by the global economic crisis.

"Workers should consider basing their demands on reality and should refrain from excessive requests because the situation in our country is still bad," said Oum Mean.

Kanwar Preet Singh, the country representative of PULS Trading Far East Limited, a major intermediary representing global brands such as Adidas, Nike, Levi's, Gap and Puma in dealing with local factories, said that he hopes the government will insist only in compliance with the existing wage law while the threat from the global economic crisis was ongoing.

"But if the law requires that workers are paid $93 a month, then we will respect the law," Mr Singh said.

Last year, the government authorised a $6 monthly increase for workers in the garment sector to combat hardships.


  • Kingdom may hire Turkish power ship

    Cambodia is considering negotiating with Turkey to hire a 200MW-capacity power ship to meet electricity demands as the country faces an ongoing electrical shortage, according to the prime minister. Speaking to garment workers in Pursat province on Wednesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Electricite du

  • ‘Kingdom lacks up to 400MW in available electricity’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the general public, hoteliers and businesspeople with generators to use them as back-up as the Electricity Authority of Cambodia cannot generate enough electricity to meet needs due to low water levels in power station reservoirs. On Saturday evening

  • Sor Chandeth defends his criticism of Hun Sen

    Former senator Sor Chandeth has defended his choice of words when criticising Hun Sen, saying he was merely speaking metaphorically to attack the Prime Minister’s political life, not his actual person, as the latter seeks damages. [img] Chandeth spoke to The Post on Thursday,

  • South Korea’s Moon arrives in Kingdom for state visit

    South Korean president Moon Jae-in and his wife arrived in Phnom Penh on Thursday at the start of a three-day state visit to Cambodia to strengthen ties and further the friendship between the two countries. After arriving at the Phnom Penh International Airport in the